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We recently moved into a neighborhood where not many seem to know about our Reformed faith. How quickly should we bring this into conversations? Or do we leave it out unless asked?

When we move into a new neighborhood, we are starting out as strangers, so the first step is to become acquaintances. Becoming acquaintances usually begins with a wave and a greeting, but then requires that we be intentional about making connections by introducing ourselves and inviting conversation with good questions and attentive listening. In this way, we naturally begin to move from acquaintance into relationship—spending time together and talking about more than sports and the weather.

At this point, however, many Christians start focusing on how to bring up their faith. Unfortunately, this often shuts down the journey toward authentic relationships. People don’t appreciate people with agendas! In contrast, when we look at how Jesus shared the gospel, we notice it happened in the flow of everyday life, genuine conversation, eating together, living among, and coming alongside. To follow his example—to keep the greatest commandment—often requires us to make some shifts. We shift from wondering when we can tell to how we can listen and get to know. We shift from focusing on results, such as getting them to come to church, to developing authentic relationships.

What if sharing the good news is also about getting to know our neighbors in our ordinary, everyday lives such that we discover how God is already at work in our neighbors and recognize that our friendship is an opportunity from the Spirit for us to trust and join Jesus in bearing witness to God’s good story and loving reign right where we live. After all, not only have you moved in, but God has: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women!” (Rev. 21:3, The Message).

As you seek to discover and join God in your neighborhood, I encourage you to consider these questions:

  • How am I paying attention to my neighbors and my community?
  • How am I loving my neighbors?
  • How am I listening in such a way that conversations go deeper?
  • How might I do any of the above things differently or better?
  • With whom am I eating? When/how will I share meals with my neighbors? (A lot of good things happened around tables with Jesus!)
  • What signs of God’s loving reign am I noticing in my neighborhood (e.g. peace, joy, equity, abundance, goodness, generosity)? How am I participating, and how could I join in?
  • Where do I sense the Spirit nudging me to take a risk toward relationships? When and how will I do that?

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